This summer Camp Ramah Darom added an additional level of support to the Tikvah Support Program. “We want every camper that walks through our doors to be successful, says Dr. Audra Kaplan, Director of Tikvah Support and Camper Care. “Over the years of developing our Tikvah Support Program, we have found that success at camp looks different for every camper. This summer, we added a level of support to be sure that each camper is successful in their own way”, says Audra.
Inclusion counselors, Madrichim Mechazkim are now attached to each aidah (age group). These specialized counselors make it possible for more campers to be fully integrated into their appropriate aidah and live in bunks with their peers. The Madrichim Mechazkim participate in activities with their aidah and support all campers and staff. They model how to include campers of all abilities in different activities, how to facilitate conversations between campers and how to calm campers who might be anxious. The addition of these staff members allows for a broader range of support and summer camp success.
In addition to Tikvah Support and inclusion counselors within each aidot, Camp Ramah Darom offers a broad range of disability ally programming to enhance our camp community and create lifelong disability allies. Our youngest campers learn about differences and how to lend a hand to a friend. As the campers get older these programs touch on invisible disabilities and how we can make camp a more welcoming and inclusive community.
Once the campers reach Nivonim (entering 10th grade), the programming becomes more hands-on and extends into the “real world”. This year, campers learned about growing up with a disability from a member of our Tikvah Support Team with cerebral palsy. They then went on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, where they visited Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop, a company that employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the last days of session Alef, Nivo campers committed to the #notbroken movement, advocating that our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not broken, but instead have so much to offer to all of us and to every community.
“You can see the difference as you walk around camp and observe everyday interaction. New friendships are being formed and what started out as an inclusion program at Ramah Darom has become a way of living. It is organic and natural. ” -Robyn Diamond
Now in it’s fourth summer, Ramah Darom’s Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Support Program is designed for campers with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, Intellectual Disability and Communication Disorder. As part of Camp Ramah Darom, an award-winning ACA-accredited residential camping program, we are focused on providing a traditional, immersive, Jewish summer camping experience to Jewish children with disabilities. Through individualized approach and support by highly skilled staff, campers build friendships, gain a sense of autonomy, develop independent living skills, learn problem-solving skills, grow as members of the Ramah Darom community and most importantly, have fun! Learn more.
“Camp should be a place that all children get to experience. Four years ago, we opened our doors to campers who have disabilities. This summer, we added an extra level of support that will ensure that even more campers get to experience the magic of Camp Ramah Darom.” -Dr. Audra Kaplan, Director of Tikvah Support and Camper Care